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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Mexico: Land of Topes. USA: Land of hope & glory.

Distance: 4,083.1 kms
Moving Average: 76.5 kph
Max Speed: 134 kph
Moving Time: 52 hrs 57 minutes
Total Distance: 24,174.3 kms
Total Distance including by Dong Feng S30: 28,724.3 kms

The Belize/Mexican border at Chetumal was a breeze. I had to pay a $200 bond, to make sure I didn't sell my “Rooney Cycle” to some Mexican. Fat chance! No Mexican could afford her!

We met a French family, living in Costa Rica and travelling for a year in a converted German Fire Truck. A great family. They directed us to a camp ground used by most overland cars and trucks. It was the grouse. On the Gulf of Mexico, pool, restaurant, bar, laundry and magnificent Cabanas. About 6 or 7 cars and trucks to swap notes with. Including two Toyota Landcruiser Troop Carriers, my current fetish.

The French couple are travelling with their 4 kids. All terrific. The youngest one is a darling of an 8 year old girl. She asked her Mother why I leant my bike against a tree. When told it was because my side stand was stuffed, she went and got her bicycle and told me I could have her side stand. How lovely is that!!!!

Headed north early, toward the Yacatan Peninsular, we wanted to see the famous Cenotes (sinks) The Motorways are excellent, unfortunately with many, many tolls. But, bloody boring. And it was hot. Valladolid was OK, took the day off and rode to look at 4 different Cenotes and another Mayan Ruin. I am a little over Ruins by now. If fact, if we stop at any more, I will probably just sleep under a tree in the car park. These were good ruins though.

Cenote is Mexican for sink hole. A hole where the ground collapses and fills with water. We could swim in the first one, just as well as I had nearly melted from walking around the ruins in my bike gear. It was bloody interesting as well. The second one was underground , in a large limestone cave. Lovely, although not as well cared for as the first one.

Another 500 km ride to Veracruz, large port city. Unfortunately we were a little early for their Mardi Gra, it's next weekend. Looks like it will be bigger than Ben Hurr.

Anyone who bags Australia for being a "nannie state" probably hasn't traveled outside our country much.  Our many rules and regulations make Australia such a great place to live. Countries in South and Central America, as well as a lot of the rest of the world, could learn a lot from Australia.

We did a 540 km ride to Xilitla to look at some art work. The “artwork”, all concrete, was commissioned by a wealthy eccentric old Pommie named Edward James, to me,it  looked like a mass of abandoned Soviet era buildings, rapidly being  overcome by jungle. A real woftam.

It took us about 10 hours to get there and we had over 350 Topes. That is more than 1 every 1.54285714 kms!They are what we call Dong Feng Breakers. Chile had a lot, Argentina had a few, Brazil had many, But Mexico is the King. The fcukers are everywhere.

Ian, Errol and Bill had warned me about the Topes. Nasty bastards. Nothing can prepare you for them. Fortunately, with my “Rooney Special's” superior Ohlins suspension they are not as bad as with some inferior bikes. It is impossible to get into any sort of rhythm. I stood up for most of them, hitting them at about 65 to 75 kph. By the end of the day, after standing over 300 times, my knees were stuffed, I had to slow down and ride over them sitting down. They are real bastards !! Really took the fun out of riding, in what is otherwise an exceptional country. Afterwards we rode on the motorways. Bloody boring and very expensive.

I could see a cold front developing ahead. It was a bloody cold and bloody windy. A really strong headwind, with rain. We had to tuck into the slip stream of a truck for a while as Dale's Honda couldn't hold 5th gear. That's a strong wind.

We stayed the night in Ciudad Victoria. Nothing exceptional.

Next day I broke a clutch cable. No problem, as fortunately, I carry a spare. It was a little bit short and we couldn't fit the adjuster, so made one up out of 2 cable ties. Works a treat.

A guy pulled up to see if we needed a hand. Another lovely bloke, a BMW rider as well. Told him our route across from the coast. He asked where we had stayed and was horrified when told our route and that we had spent last night in Victoria! He said we were lucky we couldn't read the newspapers or listen to the radio, as we had ridden through the most dangerous area in Mexico. Last year he had stopped for fuel Ciudad Victoria when riding with 11 mates. When leaving town in the some machine gun carrying bandits in pickups (Utes to us Aussies) pulled them over and robbed them. Took their cash, their wallets, mobile phones, bike keys and their pants. One bloke did a runner, one  of the pickups chased him and shot at him. Lucky he rode a BMW K1300S. They go like a scalded cat and the baddies couldn't catch or get a good shot him. Lindsay says he was born lucky. Dale and I must be too. As luck would have it, in Victoria we had stayed in the Hotel in town where all the out of area Police stay.

An American motorcyclist was, presumably, kidnapped in this area in January and has still not been seen. Maybe we were lucky.
Morelia, 21 of February
According to the investigation conducted by Michoacan authorities concerning the disappearance of HARRY DEVERT the American motorcyclist, he did not disappear in Michoacan but in Guerrero.
Excelsior gained access to confidential reports of the two state prosecutors which affirms that the last place the "world traveler" was seen was in Playa Troncones, between Ixtapa, Guerrero and Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacan.
According to the testimony of a subject arrested by police in Zihuatanejo, Harry was detained by members of organized crime at the behest of a subject nicknamed The Hawk and his deputy known as The Tiger, who illegally held him against his will.
According to research by specialized staff of prosecutors of the two states, those who captured Harry Devert belong to a criminal group known as The Warriors which until a few months ago belonged to the Knights Templar and now serve the interests of Jalisco's New Generation cartel.
Investigations were ongoing when earlier this week Bryan Jimenez Mandujano was detained in Zihuatanejo for carrrying a gun prohibited for civilian use and, when questioned by the Public Ministry, confessed to being part of an organized crime cell.
According to government sources, Bryan Jimenez confessed that his boss, a subject identified as Adrian Reyes Cadena, The Tiger, seized the young native New Yorker, believing him to be a member of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA of the United States.)
Until yesterday the whereabouts of the US motorcyclist had not been established because Jimenez Mandujano has not provided many details: the detainee claims not to know the fate of the victim of his criminal
organization but research suggests that he was taken to a ranch called La Palma near Petatlan where his royal eminence , El Tigre, and his criminal group are based.
A rumor unconfirmed by ministerial authorities says Adrian Reyes has been seen aboard the motorcycle owned by the disappeared young man.
Harry Devert of Franco-American origin, left New York at the beginning of January (actually it was December) with just a tent on his motorcycle, heading to Brazil with the intention of attending the World Cup.
The last time he was seen was the 25th of January in the state of Mexico where he had stayed at the home of a friend.
“Estadunidense desapareció en Guerrero” | Excélsior
A good indication we had passed the more dangerous areas was that machine gun carrying Police didn't guard the Motorway toll plazas anymore. They only had pistols. After a while they were only security personel armed with a baton. We thought we were safe now!

We had a couple of days hot and boring riding, motorways all the way, to El Paso, the US border town in Texas. El Paso is supposed to be the safest town in the U.S. Juarez,the town on the Mexican side of the border is reputedly the most dangerous town in Mexico. Our last night in Mexico was spent in a Ahumada, a town which straddled the railway line. We had to walk across the line to get from our Hotel to a restaurant. The biggest, longest, fastest freight trains, possibly in the world, hurtled down the street, flat strap. An awesome sight and sound.

We escaped Mexico after only having to drink Corona once. It is a bland rubbish beer. Not popular in Mexico at all. A bit like Fosters at home. Mexico has some really lovely beers. Our favourite, by far, was Negra Modelo.

I liked Mexico, and the Mexican people. I liked it all,except for the fcuking Topes.

I hope the Mexicans send me my $200 bond for the "Rooney". They promised to.

Distance: 1,932.5 kms
Moving Average: 84.3 kph
Max Speed: 134 kph
Moving Time: 22hrs 17 minutes
Total Distance on my "BMW Rooney Special: 26,106.8 kms
Total Distance, including Dong Feng S30: 30,656.8 kms

The US is our 17th country of this trip. The USA is the 50th country my “BMW Rooney Special” and I have ridden through. I have been to 16 Countries without my “Rooney”. On this trip, we have, conservatively, spent 40 hours undertaking 17 border crossings. Mexico/US was our quickest and easiest, by far. We rode to the head of a 2-3 hour queue and were welcomed into the US in less than 2 minutes. Our trusty Garmin GPS led us out of El Paso, we headed west towards Los Angeles.

This section of our trip is “Lindsay's Loop”, as he really wanted to see this area of the US.

Dale pulled up, said his bike felt like the back brake was dragging, changed the spark plug and his Honda went like a scalded cat again.

The highways here are brilliant, even better than Mexico's. US drivers are competent and considerate. It was warm and sunny, although not for long. The temperature dropped through the floor so we found a Motel and headed for the bar. Luckily they served Negra Modelo. Next morning it was around 5 degrees and took for ever to warm up. We wanted to ride 340 kms to Tucson and be at the Pima Air and Space Museum before lunch, planned to meet our Irish mate Jim Walsh.

This Museum is incredible, the 3rd largest air museum in the world, over 350 aircraft on display. After 5 hours we had hardly scratched the surface. Our Guide, an ex USAF Pilot, had incredible knowledge.

In an incredible stroke of luck, Pilots were doing there annual certification to fly new and old Military Aircraft together for air shows. The guy, or gal flying an F22 Raptor was doing things I did not believe possible to do in an air plane. Fcuking amazing! It made my day. The Raptor flew past in close company with a Thunderbolt and a Sabre. Three generations of fighter planes together.This on its own, made the stopover in Tucson worthwhile. Ricky would have barred up!!

We spent the night drinking beer with Jim and telling lies. Things are good at. Back to Pima Museum to do the USAF Aircraft Boneyard tour. What a blast. Fcuk me! They have 4,300 aircraft stored in the desert, 20% will fly again. The rest are to be scrapped. Aircraft we have only seen on TV or read about. This joint is incredible.

I liked Tucson for another reason, George Thorogood and The Destroyers will be playing here next week.

Away by lunchtime, heading west towards Flagstaff. Dale's bike got the death rattles and stopped. Lindsay and I rode into Black Rock City (bloody smallest city I have been in ) and found Will. An ex  Navy Submariner, who now restores motorcycles. Will and I went out and picked up Dale's Honda and took it to Will's shop. Checked into an expensive, old fashioned small town Motel, showered and got on the piss with Will and his mate Eric. Both bloody good blokes. Dale's Honda was stuffed. The engine was absolutely fcuked. A pity as she had been a beautiful bike. What a bastard. Will gave Dale a couple of hundred bucks for her and drove him to Phenoex to rent a car, not a Dong Feng S30, but her close relative, a small Chev of some description. Might have been a Dong Feng underneath.

The ride to Flagstaff was cold. Fcuking cold. Black Rock City was at 600 metres, Flagstaff was at 2,200 metres. There was snow on the ground. To cold for a couple of Aussies. We caught up with Jim and got on the piss. Is there a pattern emerging? Next morning Jim headed east. He is a good bloke, for an Irishman. Our Hotel was right on the famed Route 66.

 And we forgot to ring our friend Jo.

We took the softcock's way out and drove the 350 km round trip to the Grand Canyon in Dale's Chev. It had a heater. It was amazing, very, very impressive. The Canyon, not the trip in Dale's Chev.

Today's ride was a little over 400kms to Las Vegas via Hoover Dam. The Dam was interesting, although a little underwhelming. Met some Aussie's who had hired Harleys out of Las Vegas and had ridden to the Dam to escape a conference they were in town for. We all rode into Vegas together.

Las Vegas is a little different. In fact very different.Our mate Randy was in town. His sons flew in from Canada. Randy and his son Matt are Adventure Motorcyclists and have stayed at my place.
The night deteriorated. Randy drove us home sometime before daylight. He said we were staying in the Crystal Meth area of the city and should not walk back to our hotel at night. Also, we should run from his car to the hotel door. Doesn't happen like that in Australia.

Next night was more of the same, only this time it was almost daylight when Lindsay and I hit the sack.

I did the bike shop thing, went to my first Nascar race and won $200 on Roulette.  Had an overpriced and tough as leather steak and a fantastic, cheap smorgasbord. Time to head for Los Angeles.

Roads in the US are so good they are boring. Americans are excellent and extremely courteous drivers. Apart from Japan, probably the best I have have had the pleasure to ride among. I like Americans. We could all learn a lot from their attitude to customer service. It is very impressive. Definitely the best in the world. By far.  I cannot understand their archaic attitude toward gun control and Universal Health Care. I found the thinking of most open minded Americans is in line with my own on these subjects.

Luckily our hotel in LA was in an area where we could walk at night. Found an Hawaiian Pub. Never heard Hawaiian music or eaten Hawaiian food before. All good though.

Washed the bikes while Dale returned his hire car. Met Sam, a top bloke and a BMW rider.Our bike washing, meeting Sam and bike drop off chores were all finished by lunch time. Lindsay and I went shopping, just like a pair of old sheilas. Some things are very cheap here. 

Things in LA have gone really smoothly, so we can play tourist for a couple of days. Walked for miles, did the Hollywood Hills, see the stars houses and a joint where they make movies tour. Walked from Santa Monica to Playa Del Ray via Venice Beach. Interesting. Dale went on a food tour, Lindsay and I went on a bike shop crawl. Stumbled upon the biggest BMW bike dealer in the US. Our new best mate Ron looked after us. Long Beach BMW are good people.

Lindsay and I went to Sam's bar and had several pints of Budweiser with Sam and his brother Vic. Beer always tastes better when it is free. Good company helps a lot too. To say we enjoyed our time with Sam and Vic would be an understatement. Vic is coming to my place as well. Anyone who drives his Ferrari to the rev limiter (161mph or 259.104kph) on a public road is OK by me.

Packing and getting to the airport was a little rushed. Lindsay and I being well lubricated didn't help, although it did help me sleep on the plane.

Sydney in Autumn is lovely. I love my family, I love my friends and I even love my job. But, fcuk me, I would rather be in Cuzco with Lindsay and Dale, about to ride to Quito.

And they still haven't found Harry Devert.


Ali is everywhere.

An abandoned Soviet era building in Kazakhstan, or art in Mexico

The feared Mexican "Feds"
No problems for us.

Mexican kids and their Aussie Blue Cattle Dog. 
The bloody thing bit me and my "Rooney".

Dale ran out of fuel. Again!

 Welcome to El Paso, Texas, USA.

One for Allan.

With Lindsay, Dale and Jim.
(Jim's photo)

(Jim's photo)

Thunderbolt, Sabre and Raptor. (Jim's photo)

Dale's Honda being stripped.


Jim leaves us.


Cleaned and on her way home.

And that's the end of this tour.

A few photos of Iyuni Salt Lake in Bolivia, courtesy of Dale.